There has been a lot to talk about this offseason for the Green Bay Packers. Primarily on the offensive side of the ball. However, there’s a chance the top offseason priority of 2023 lays on the defensive side. This would be signing Rashan Gary to a contract extension.

Gary is entering his fifth year in the league and will be playing on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract. If nothing is done before-hand, Gary will hit the market as an unrestricted free agent next offseason. The Packers simply cannot afford to let this happen. In fact, I wouldn’t let this wait later than September 1st.

Rashan Gary is definitely the team’s premiere pass rusher. The former 1st round (12th overall) pick recorded his best season in 2021 with 9.5 sacks and 28 QB hits. Before his season was cut short in week 9 due to a torn ACL injury, Gary had 6 sacks and 12 QB hits. Before injury, he was on pace for about 11.5 sacks and about 23 QB hits. This would’ve been a career year for Rashan Gary and he surely may have been signed to an extension already.

But the injury recovery questions could be holding this back.

Road to Recovery

Many refer to it as the turf monster claiming another victim. It’s a trend that was really brought to life this past season. Artificial turf seems to claim many more non-contact injuries than natural grass. And Rashan Gary was part of the point pushed by many NFL players.

Gary went to change the route of his pursuit from pass rush to stopping a quick pass when it happened. He couldn’t put pressure on his right leg and after examination it was discovered to be a torn ACL. Perhaps currently the most devastating non-contact injury in the league. Just like that, his season was over.

Surgery immediately followed and the rehab began. There has been no timetable for Rashan Gary’s return at all. Many speculate that it will be a miracle for Gary to be ready for Week 1 vs the Chicago Bears. Well, apparently Rashan Gary is pushing to be a miracle-worker because many have said they would not rule him out for Week 1 quite yet.

Rashan Gary gives everything 100% effort. That goes for his rehab too. Fellow pass-rusher Preston Smith stated that every time he gets a look at Gary running with the rehab group, he can tell Gary is giving it everything he has. He’s not the type of player to do anything half-assed. No matter what it is, Rashan Gary is giving it everything he’s got. So, that week 1 return isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

It could be the unknown question of what kind of a player Rashan Gary will be on his return that’s delaying an extension getting done. Perhaps the Packers want to insure he’s back to himself before they put that ink to paper. This isn’t a bad strategy, but they can’t afford to delay. Gary must be next.

Extend him now!

If the Packers don’t put ink to paper for Rashan Gary before the season starts, they could only be betting against themselves.

Currently, on the fifth-year option, Gary is making around $10.9M this year. As it stands, Rashan Gary could earn around $20M annually on a new deal.

Imagine if rehab goes well enough for him to start Week 1 and he finishes the season with 12 sacks. Gary and his agent would be well aware his market value would be much higher. Maybe even in the $30M range for a team in desperate need of a premiere pass rusher. So, the time is now.

Also, signing Gary to an extension, pushing some of the money to 2024 when Aaron Rodgers’ bloated contract will be off the books would also allow some cap space for 2023. Not that the Packers are going to make some big Free Agency splash or something at this point, but it could help with other extensions as well.

It’s time to pull the trigger on extending number 52 for at least another four years before it’s too late. Let’s get it done now.

Greg Meinholz is a lifelong devoted Packer fan. A contributor to PackersTalk as well as CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter at @gmeinholz. for Packers commentary, random humor, beer endorsements, and occasional Star Wars and Marvel ramblings.